Fascism and Dark Money, II

There is a kind of superficial allure to what is today called “libertarianism”, which not only today serves to justify “dark money” but also gun culture and is apparently what motivates right-wing militias and militants such as the “Three Percenters,” some of whom are involved in the present occupation of the wildlife sanctuary in Oregon.

Like other contemporary ideologies — liberalism, conservatism, socialism, communism, etc — there are precedents for libertarianism in early Christianity and in Islam, too. But this original spiritual or religious impulse has very little to do with what is today called “libertarianism”, just as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism have likewise forgotten their roots as secular ideologies in the Gospels, and no longer recollect their original arising from the theological controversies of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. The secular ideologies are, in essence, decayed and hollowed out residues and remnants of what were originally “spiritual” inspirations, but are presently only fragments and splinters of the broken cross that once served as the symbol of unity of “Christendom”.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms: Ephesians 6:12

Needless to say, between then and now, mainstream Christianity has become something else entirely. It has largely been turned on its head. But from this passage from Ephesians also follows, as corollary, St. Augustine’s: “love God and do what you will”, which contains a deep “libertarian” impulse.

So, what kept the original “libertarian” or anarchist impulse in Christianity from decaying into a mere self-indulgent libertinism was this “love of God” which, in practical terms, meant imitation of Christ. How to love God was a bit of a problem as long as “God” was only an abstract idea in the head, and not a real presence, even as an historical name. Since Jesus was this “Word made flesh” — a human avatar of the living God — “loving God” was a matter of loving the unity of man and God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and following his example. Loving God was a matter of mimesis — imitatio Christi. And the beginnings of Christianity itself lies in the commandment that Jesus gave to his followers: “be thou therefore perfect even as thy Father in Heaven…” And from this commandment follows, logically, the statement in Ephesians 6:12. The struggle is not against the body, but against those who have locked up the keys to “the kingdom of heaven”. The body, after all, was “the temple of the living God” and “the kingdom of heaven is within you”.

The precedent for Ephesians 6:12 was Jesus’ own example of berating the priest-rulers of Israel, the scribes and Pharisees, for locking up the keys to the kingdom of heaven, as recorded in Matthew 23:13-15,

13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.…

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. Needless to say, this hasn’t much to do with contemporary libertarianism, which has made “the self-interest” itself a god and so has become rather libertinism and libertinage, and also because “love God and do what you will” has little to support it as a directive with the “death of God”.

(And I will leave alone, for the time being, the question whether the “death of God” has anything to do with the total estrangement of the left-hemisphere of the brain from the right, in McGilchrist’s framework, or why “the master and his emissary” is a contemporary restatement, in neurological terms, of the parable of the Prodigal Son, who is the ego-consciousness).

The latter day representative of the pure libertine is, of course, the Marquis de Sade. But the precedent for de Sade was an obscure Christian monastic order (eventually suppressed as heretical during the Inquisition) called The Brethren of the Free Spirit. The Brethren of the Free Spirit were the counterpart to today’s libertarians. They were a debauched Franciscan order that claimed justification from the sermons of the mystic Meister Eckhart (although Eckhart denied that the Brethren had anything to do with his sermons or writings. Oddly, and perhaps significantly, later the Nazis were also to claim Meister Eckhart as their own precedent!). The Brethren seem to have indulged their more self-interested and carnal appetites (not excluding, apparently, rape and murder) rather freely, on the apparent premise that everything was God and all was forgiven already by the grace of God.

The Brethren of the Free Spirit are interesting nonetheless because they seem to be pivotal in the transition from the spiritual liberalism, even anarchism, of the early Christians to its devaluation as libertinism and libertarianism. The self-interest becomes sanctified, and the unrestrained pursuit of the self-interest becomes the sacred way. And I can’t help but wonder whether, in this, we see a shift from the right-brain’s mode of attention to the left-brain’s mode of attention, as described by McGilchrist. For it seems quite evident that what I call “Khayyam’s Caution”– i.e, that “only a hair separates the false from the true” — has something to do with McGilchrist’s description of the “divided brain”. It would make a lot of sense that it has something to do also with neurodynamics.

It actually makes eminent sense that the longing for emancipation, for expression, would originate in the suppressed part of the brain — the right hemisphere — but that this longing gets manipulated by the left-hemisphere to serve only the self-interest, and is turned or perverted into something else entirely. “Truthiness” rather than truth. For if McGilchrist is correct in his description of neurodynamics (and I think the evidence shows that he largely is) the predilection of the attention of the right-hemisphere of the brain is the “overview”, while the predilection of the attention of the left-hemisphere of the brain is only “the point-of-view”, and thus a perspectivising construct. The distinction between Ego and Self would be precisely reflected in neurodynamics and neuroanatomy.

Brain asymmetry makes a lot of sense, especially when trying to understand the “pendulum swings” of human history and the mind’s tendency to think in terms of extreme dualisms rather than mutually implicate polarities as, for example, in alchemy.

But more on that later.



12 responses to “Fascism and Dark Money, II”

  1. davidm58 says :

    “Brain asymmetry makes a lot of sense, especially when trying to understand the “pendulum swings” of human history and the mind’s tendency to think in terms of extreme dualisms rather than mutually implicate polarities as, for example, in alchemy.

    But more on that later.”

    Important point, I think. I look forward to your further thoughts about this.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    As I was reading “Matthew 23:13-15,” it occurred to me how true and valid everything said therein is about all the religious ideological regimes in the middle east. It’s remarkable how well that excerpt captures what they do – those “scribes and Pharisees.”

    It’s with exceptional cunning (not even with “force” for they are hollow and weak in truth) that they – the scribes & Pharisees – rule; albeit with lots of help from “Dark Money.”

  3. abdulmonem says :

    The scribes and pharisees of the present, secular temples are far more vicious,oppressive and deceptive than the scribes and pharisees of the old temples. Many questions come to the mind,as who destabilizes the middle east in service of Israel, who uses the cronies of the region to keep the region undeveloped and backward and invests its resources in the western banks and who and who and the list never end. This is not to absolve the people of the region from their responsibility, they are first to be blamed. However peoples of the west do share the responsibility being better educated and more aware and should not be kept hypnotized,and ignorant of the crimes their governments have committed and are committing in other people lands. They should raise their voices against such oppression. It is a sad story but life continues and change is the law of the earth and new consciousness is rising everywhere, a consciousness that rebels against oppression and injustice. We are all witnessers in this earth.

    • davidm58 says :

      Many good points you make.
      You said “change is the law of the earth…” Is this a reference to Gebser’s use of that phrase “law of the earth”? How did you come to the conclusion that “change” is that law?
      I’ll have to look that passage up in EPO later.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I did post something about Gebser’s “law of the Earth” in the old Dark Age Blog without coming to any kind of conclusion about what he actually meant by that reference to Chthonic law — evidently, something Gebser considered horrifying in some way. There’s also what appears to be a reference to it in Rumi, who also declines to be more specific about it.

        What hurts you, blesses you.
        Darkness is your candle.
        Your boundaries are your quest.
        I can explain this, but it would break
        the glass cover on your heart,
        and there’s no fixing that.

        So, the “law of the Earth” remains an enigma for the time being, but maybe we’ll discover clues to its meaning in Nietzsche or Aurobindo? — or maybe even Lovecraft. Evidently, in any case, it takes great strength of spirit to endure the knowledge of it, whatever “it” may be. Perhaps it is implied in Castaneda as well, recalling don Juan’s suggestion to him that the art of the warrior was to balance the wonder of being alive with the terror of being alive — the awesome and the awful, as it were.

        • davidm58 says :

          Regarding “The Law of the Earth,” Pogany writes, “The expression “fulfillment of the law of the Earth” is found in the Gilgamesh legend. It
          is Enkidu, the main hero’s savage avatar, the allegoric character of unspoiled instinct, who lets him know that current trends have tragic consequences in their tow.”

          This is consistent with your analysis above, and with Gebser’s statement.

          Pogany continues, “Gebser never defined the “law of the Earth,” but later developments in economics support the proposition that it could be considered identical with the second law of thermodynamics.”

          Now, this is interesting, Here’s how I think about it currently:
          C.S. Holling’s 4 phase cycle of of birth, growth and maturation, death, and renewal. Boiled down to “what goes up must come down” or “Wash, rinse, repeat.” I’ve come to believe the “law of the earth” refers to the ever present polarity of expansion and contraction. Impermanence by any other name. This is consistent with abdulmonem’s idea of the law of the earth as continual change.

          Pogany’s 2010 presentation to the Gebser society on the subject of “New Scientific Evidence Confirms Gebser’s Concerns about Technological Overreach” is quite interesting, and only 8 pages: http://integralpostmetaphysics.ning.com/forum/attachment/download?id=5301756%3AUploadedFile%3A61135

          Pogany writes, “Referring to technological progress, as his generation understood it and as ours continues to pursue it, Gebser said “If the destructive might of such progress is not weakened, these developments, according to their degree of autonomy will automatically fulfill the law of the Earth.” Thus, yes, focusing on the part of the law of the earth, or the 4 phase cycle, that concerns death and destruction, hence the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Interesting attempt to resolve the enigma of the “law of the Earth”. I’ll have to read that paper and reflect on it, because really, for the life of me, I haven’t much of a clue what Gebser meant by “law of the Earth”, so resolving his meaning and intentions there would be an important step.

  4. abdulmonem says :

    Hi Davidm58
    law of change is not confined to earth but to life, to the cosmos to everything. Just looking on ourselves,our environment we can observe the law in action, we are always in continual change and so is the environment,climate change. Just google law of change and you will find many,many sites and articles talking about the law..

  5. T.Collins Logan says :

    Thanks to davidm58 for introducing me to this blog, which I’ve been enjoying a lot. Coupla thoughts on this entry. “Libertarian” as an ideology has been coopted by the Tea Party types in the U.S. and this really isn’t reflective of its broader historic and modern representations. For example, I identify as a “libertarian socialist” (or “left-libertrarian”). The Tea Party/Koch brothers flavor of “libertarian” is really “right-libertarian” or “anarcho-capitalist.” So my exhortation would be not to put all libertarians in the same bucket, and that the type of libertarianism you are discussing is really more of an intersection of the corporatist neoliberal agenda and populist militant individualism. At my end of the spectrum there is a more collectivist flavor. Just sayin.

    My second point is that McGilchrist doesn’t take on capitalism and its negative externalities as a consequence of the left hemisphere’s dominance. Yes, he touches upon this briefly in the book, but he doesn’t really engage the issue, and I think that is problematic. (You can read more of my thoughts about his book here: https://www.academia.edu/9125425/Thoughts_on_Iain_McGilchrists_The_Master_and_His_Emissary).

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    • Scott Preston says :

      Thanks for the comment. My more recent musings on the socio-political issue were posted yesterday and today.

      Thanks for the link to your review of McGilchrist. I had to jump hoops to get it, but I’ve emailed it to myself and look forward to reading it when I get home later today.

      I was reflecting just this morning (after posting “Ecology and Integrality”) on how socialism is also undergoing a “mutation” of sorts. Contemporary socialism hasn’t much in common with “classical socialism” we might call it. It’s now more ecologically informed (especially after Andre Gorz published his “Ecology and Politics” and his “Farewell to the Working Class”, which got all the Marxists of my acquaintance at university all indignant and riled up. Also Rudolph Bahro in Germany). It’s also amusing to read neo-Marxists like Slavoj Zizek wax indignant about old Marxists turning to Buddhism (if you’ve read “From Western Marxism to Western Buddhism”… it’s available online).

      Classical socialism (despite its original roots in the Protestant Reformation as “the social gospel”) didn’t really understand itself until ecology came along. Its roots lie in the holistic or integralist longings of the “first attention”, but which became rationalised by the second attention — the left-hemisphere. The principle of “solidarity” only matures with its realisation as ecology as the fellowship of the living, the solidarity of life. I never read Gorz or Bahro for that matter (although I helped smuggle Bahro’s books into East Berlin with a group of Berlin anarchists when I lived there. I had always intended to read Bahro but had other interests at the time. Bahro’s life passages are quite interesting). If we follow McGilchrist’s model, classical socialism was too much the product of the “left-hemisphere’s” systematising functions (especially dialectic) and that it only really comes into its own as political ecology.

      “The Arts and all things in common” was Blake’s formula for the good society, and you could interpret that as “anarcho-socialism”, too. But the word “ecology” and the idea of ecodynamics didn’t exist for Blake at the time. But that’s nonetheless what his mythology of the four Zoas and the “fourfold vision” amounts to — the ecodynamics of the soul. Also, Naomi Klein’s own life passages from “No Logo” to her latest “This Changes Everything” is also certainly testimony to that transition, and the maturation of socialism as political ecology.

      Thanks for dropping by. I’m looking forward to reading your review of McGilchrist.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I can appreciate what you wrote in your review of McGilchrist’s book. I found the latter part of the book a bit difficult — a bit too “reaching”, a little too speculative (like the iconclasm of the Protestant Reformation which I interpret quite differently than being a left-hemisphere phenomenon. — I think he fell too far under the spell of Hegel there, leaving open the suggestion that the Counter-Reformation and dogmatism was the right-hemisphere’s defence of faith and of itself as “master” which I can’t credit at all. A bit of a lapse, perhaps, but otherwise I agree that it is a great and important book.

      • T.Collins Logan says :

        As you can see it takes me a while to catch up with my online exchanges. Thanks for taking a peek at the review, and I’m glad it resonated. I’ve been reading more of your blog and hope to comment on later posts soon.

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